CIA ‘launches secret drone campaign’ in Syria

According to the Washington Post, the program is using armed drones to kill ISIS 'high value targets'

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A secret drone campaign targeting ISIS leaders is being carried out by the CIA and U.S. special forces in Syria, the Washington Post reported on Tuesday.

According to the paper, the clandestine program is using armed drones to kill the militant leaders, in a move that has been separated from wider American military operations against ISIS in territory held by the militants in Syria and Iraq.

The strikes are being carried out by the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), while the CIA's main role in the operation is identifying and locating senior ISIS leaders.

So far, the program has only resulted in a handful of strikes focusing on “high value targets,” officials told the Post.

The CIA and U.S. special forces are carrying out a secret campaign using armed drones to target and kill Islamic State leaders in Syria, the

Among those so far killed is Junaid Hussain, a militant hacker from Britain who the Pentagon said was recruiting ISIS sympathizers to carry out lone wolf attacks in the West.

A decision to use the Central Intelligence Agency's Counterterrorism Center (CTC) and JSOC in the operation reflects rising anxiety about the spread of ISIS fighters, the Post reported.

The CTC led the hunt for Osama bin Laden and JSOC includes the elite Navy SEAL team that carried out the mission to kill the former al-Qaeda leader in 2011.

Drone strikes are politically contentious in Washington and President Barack Obama wants the CIA to return to its core activity of spying, and away from paramilitary actions. Instead, he wants the Pentagon to take over the drone strikes.

But Senator Barbara Feinstein of California, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, has said she was not convinced the military could carry out drone strikes with the same "patience and discretion" as the CIA.

(With AFP)

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